The Lovely Garden Blog

Shady characters

dicentraI never liked shady borders. In the past, I lived near the sea, with south facing sunny planting places and grew plants that thrived in the sunshine. Then I moved ‘over the Downs’ and discovered frost, car scrapers and dead Echiums. The treasures I brought from my seaside garden withered and died in the first winter and the heavy clay soil wouldn’t let me work in the garden for weeks on end. Huge trees in my new front garden took all my light and moisture and only ivy crept across the ground, mocking my inability to repeat my glorious borders. But now – haha – I have conquered the dry soil and trees and lack of light and moisture and nutrients. I’ve discovered plants that I love and will thrive in the new places I have created for them. The trick to the soil was bags and bags of horse manure. I still have it delivered in huge quantities each autumn. This has enriched the soil and added moisture where my plants are competing with the trees. I struggled with plants like bergenias, which I’d always derided, but after discovering ‘silberlicht’ and Bressingham White’, I was won over. The leaves give me structure in the winter and now the flowers have come along too. Dicentra spectabilis ‘alba’ is one of my favourite shade lovers. Don’t buy the pink one. It’s like a horrible pink lipstick colour that makes you look washed out. The white is much more elegant. The lovely thing about white plants is that they glow in the shade and add another depth and dimension to the gloom. My other favourite white shade plants are lamium, white helleborus – Potters Wheel, the tiny cornus canadensis and pachysandra terminalis. These look wonderful grouped around box balls and polystichum, the evergreen ferns. Add some white muscari hyacinths and some larger white hyacinths too and the border starts to become one of my favourites in the garden.

This entry was posted on Monday, March 21st, 2011 at 7:01 pm and is filed under Plant passions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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